Football agent Jon Smith has revealed how he agreed to pay £1.2m himself, just to get the Andrei Arshavin transfer over the line before the deadline in 2009.
In his book “The Deal”, Smith revealed just how close the transfer was to not going through.
By deadline day, Arshavin was in London having a medical on Harley Street, but Arsenal and Zenit were still negotiating.
The Gunners initially made an offer of £8m earlier in the window, just over half of the £15m wanted by the Russian club.
Then they offered £12m in the last week of the window, then £13.5m, then £13.8m on deadline day.
Zenit director general Maxim Mitrofanov still refused to budge. They wanted the full £15m of the deal was off.
Smith explained what happened next, saying: “Part of me thought, ‘What are Zenit going to do? Call him back? They have got nearly fifteen million for him anyway’. But the
Russians were absolutely poker-faced.
“We had now reached the final 40 minutes. I rang Pavel (Zenit’s administator) again; it was time to act. ‘The answer is yes. Let’s do the deal at fifteen million.’
“I couldn’t take it any longer. I decided to offer the additional £1.2m myself to get the deal done and sort it out with Arsenal later.”
The Zenit administrator then drew up the contract and sent it to Arsenal.
On the contract, it said all the money would come from the Gunners. On seeing this, Gazidis immediately rang Smith up, with only five minutes until the deadline. The CEO wasn’t happy, but there was nothing they could do to negotiate any further at that stage.
Arsenal agreed to pay the extra £1.2m, and the deal went through on time.
If the Gunners had held their stance at £13.8m, I can’t imagine they would’ve had time to get it through.
Interestingly, it was the Arsenal board who wouldn’t budge in negotiations. Despite all the rumours about Wenger’s stinginess, he was pushing them to spend more for Arshavin, because he really wanted the player.
Right now, we’re in the midst of another set of negotiations about a potential new record signing.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will likely cost over £50m, if the Gunners can agree a deal.
Hopefully the board aren’t quite as stubborn this time around.